I have said for years that the reason satellites work so well is that techs can not touch them. No tweaking, no adjustments, no hands on work. We start sending remote control techs into space we will once again have stuff broken high in the sky. My old credo: Design it right the first time and you don't need techies mucking in the equipment breaking things. My designs normally never include relays, switches, pots. electrolytic caps, or buttons and I grew up around such things. They do include a smattering of test points or muxes to remotes to prevent anyone from shorting out pins. Currently I manage a group of techies and yes, they still are the major cause of equipment damage.
I agree, Beth. This is a great use for robotic capabilities. As well as saving on expense, I would guess it's far quicker to send a machine to do the repair rather than scheduling a human to do the job. As for humans in space, I think humans should take the risk for loftier missions than repair jobs.
When I was a young engineer for RCA in the early '70s, my boss consulted with NASA regarding the early ideas for what became the Shuttle. He said that they were looking to use COTS as much as possible to keep the cost down -- make it a "space truck." There was a big conflict with making everything "space rated" (i.e., demonstrably very reliable under all possible conditions to assure human safety) and leveraging the considerable cost savings of COTS devices, especially for "non-essential" systems, such as the radios and TV cameras that our RCA division made. Space-rating won out, and for good reasons. But it still makes sense to adapt some things like the DaVinci surgical robot (an awesome piece of technology) for mission-specific applications.
The ISI DaVinci robot is primarily a tele-presence system, which is the sort of thing that will be needed more and more to extend human hands into remote and dangerous places. NASA is our way into those places, at least if it's allowed (and funded) to do its job.
Thanks, Chuck this was a fun one. Re funding, like me, you may remember the Cold War/Sputnik days when it was the mil/aero sector that developed all the high-end new electronics and other "high" tech which then moved down to the commercial sector, as there was not yet a huge consumer electronics sector. Those days are long gone. Now the moneyed sectors seem to be consumer and medical.
I agree that they still do some development, but....
My firm worked with NASA on a few nice projects in the past. One was Camera orientation for the two Mars Rowers. Another one was some special sensors on the fuel tanks for each shuttle, etc...
I see a serious change in the negative direction. It is a shame that we waste so much money on "garbage" and do not invest what we should in the technological future. We have so much tallant. It is a shame. This is all i wanted to say.
@sensorpro: I definitely agree with you about spending cuts. But NASA actually has quite a few interesting missions going on, even if nobody seems to be paying much attention to them in the news. The Curiosity rover, which is scheduled to land on Mars this summer, is one of them. And if you read NASA Tech Briefs, you can see that NASA is continuing to make numerous technological advances, to say nothing of the tremendous amount of scientific data which NASA missions generate. No other country is doing anything like this.
After you see that thousands of engineers were let go, shuttles retired, serious cuts in funds for NASA tech developments, coupled with statements like I referred to, do you really think that NASA is doing well.
I do not know how much they spend on that, but what concerns me is that do not spend on the real developments.
China does, Russia does, India does, do I need to say more !?
We need to work to invest in our technology in order to return to being a tech superpower and get jobs for our engineers that spent so much of their lives to study and advance themselves, and not to play with polytical corectness.
Even if we spend $1.00 on that stuff, it is $1.00 too much.
@sensorpro: I know it's been repeated ad infinitum on right wing websites, but can you actually find any evidence that NASA has spent any money on "historical research of Islamic contribution to space exploration"? The most I can find about this is one sentence which a NASA official said in an interview. I can't find any signs of any actual money being spent on this.
I do thisnk that with the slow process of "killing" NASA, this will be the trend in the technology field. I guess when they work on historical reasearch of islamic contribution to space exploration, they spend less time on real technical developments.
I guess this story is a sign of the times: Instead of technology being developed by the space program and trickling down to other industries, here we have technology being developed for the medical industry and then moving up to the space program. Nice story, Ann.
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